Financial tools can be a hidden drain of money
In the march towards Financial Independence, we aspire to reduce our costs. With this ambition, it makes sense to cast a critical look at every incoming expense, and most certainly every regular incoming expense. On many occasions, we overlook the very institutions that hold our hard-earned money, which is why reviewing them is the 1st entry on this website.
Best bank account
Understandably banking is not the first topic that comes to mind when thinking of Financial Independence. However, banks should be the cornerstone of everyone's strategy towards becoming financially independent. If I am to trust an institution with my life’s earnings, I want to ensure it’s credibility.
We aim to reduce our costs here, but not at the expense of security and trust. Besides, customer support and the features available online (on on mobile banking) should heavily influence your decision here.
One of the best banks available on the Indian market is DBS' Digibank. Being a completely online bank, DBS has invested heavily in in-app customer support and a feature rich mobile banking platform. It is completely free to use, has all necessary banking features like UPI and also offers an attractive savings interest rate. And it is one of the safest bank offerings around - since it is backed by the Singaporean banking behemoth - DBS.
|DBS Digibank is a great bank in India|
Grow your wealth when investing with great tools
Looking at interests from your bank as your primary source of wealth retention is highly inefficient. With the bank's interest rate being worse than the inflation rate, money kept in your account effectively loses value. This is exactly why investing is such an important thing to do.
Personally, my bank account holds no more than 3 months of living expenses. I prefer investing any additional money I have to get the most returns I can.
When investing, you need to use a broker - a firm who can help buy and sell securities (stocks, bonds, ETFs, Mutual funds). Unfortunately many traditional brokers in India charge a fortune for their services, and this is why it is crucial to shop around for a great deal. Recently, the monopoly of big brokers and banks has been broken by smaller, newer and leaner broking companies. 2 of these are ones I really like!
Kuvera (https://kuvera.in) and Zerodha (https://zerodha.com) are my brokers of choice. Kuvera is extremely easy to use, but allows only Mutual funds investment while Zerodha allows investing in Indian stocks too. And they are both incredibly low cost, boast great apps and have good support.
I personally use Kuvera, since I don't invest in individual stocks (Use the code IZM8H as a referral and help this blog :)
|Try Kuvera to invest in Mutual funds|
Traveling? Try Niyo
The fun and adventure of travel is often preceded by rounds to the bank or exchange office to exchange into a foreign currency or to get a foreign currency card. This process is tiring, frustrating and completely opaque - with heavy markups on FX rates and worse exchange fees. Also, the cards are useless since they do not allow ATM withdrawals and cannot provide realtime data on the current card balance.
Last year I found Niyo's Global Card (https://www.goniyo.com/global/), which can be loaded in INR via a usual bank transfer. This card converts between INR and other currencies at extremely fair rates, and any remaining money after your holiday can be transferred back to your bank. I love the card's features - including the ability to convert at a specific day before travelling, thereby ensuring that you have locked a rate you deem best.
TransferWise for sending money abroad
I am a regular user of TransferWise and I love everything they offer - from an app that is specialised on foreign transfers, to amazing exchange rates and the extremely helpful customer support. Their fees are a fraction of the ones offered by banks and the SWIFT network, and their reliability is amazing. Outside India, TransferWise offers local bank details in USD, EUR, SGD and GBP, along with a card that can hold multiple currencies and convert between them. Hopefully this is available soon in India too - would make me remove Niyo from this list.
If you intend to use TransferWise, use https://transferwise.com/invite/u/saurabhb12. This gets you a free transfer and helps support this blog :)
|TransferWise is a promising fintech tool|